COVID-19 DIARY – 101 YEAR OLD SERGEANT BERT LE-MERTON SOLDIERS ON

Soldier On on Twitter: ""They all need care" Bert said and he is doing his  part and keeping fit in his quest to raise money for Veterans and their  families. Bert is

September 22

The Rats of Tobruk in 1941 denied Axis forces a sweeping advance through North Africa. Similar to the halting of the Japanese advance on the Kokoda Track a year later it is a significant part of Australian military folklore.

Sergeant Bert Le-Merton was there with the 2/13 Battalion.

2/13th Battalion (Australia) - Wikipedia

Now at 102 years young he has been echoing the achievement of Sir Thomas Moore and walking in the name of charity. Where Sir Thomas Moore raised money for the NHS, Sgt Bert has been raising funds for Soldier On, a not for profit charity founded in 2012 to support veterans by John Bale, Cavin Wilson and Danielle Clout. Bale had been close friends with Lieutenant Michael Fussell who was killed in Afghanistan. 3,000 veterans and their families are supported by the charity with a holistic approach to their physical and mental wounds with employment programs, health and wellbeing services, learning and participation activities.

ACA - Honour Roll

It’s a matter of interest to me that this organisation was assisting younger troops. That was very interesting from my viewpoint. It’s been a very interesting pastime if you like, for an old bloke. In my view what we’re doing is extremely important. What I find is the young troops, who are retiring, for whatever reason don’t seem able to fit back into civilian life. To my mind it’s glorious that so much has been raised because it puts Soldier On in such a fine position to help young members of the service,” Sgt Le-Merton has said.

After the war, Bert worked for the Australian Taxation Office for 41 years before retiring at age 61. Sgt Bert whose children and grandchildren have continued to serve the nation and the community set out to walk 96kms and raise $10,000 Australian dollars. Bert who is known as ‘The Walking Man’ around his local suburb averaging 1-2kms every day has reached his milestone and has just kept on walking daily. He is now at 107.3kms and has raised $107,191 from 92 donors of which I am proud to say I am one.

March On Sgt Bert.

While mentioning this great Australian and soldier and the ongoing work to support veterans in our community which is an interest of mine. I should maybe address recent news coverage of Australian special forces allegedly committing atrocities in Afghanistan.

War crimes have occurred since war began, there are some who have said junior soldiers are being thrown under the bus from a hypocritical command and politicians who sent them into fight a dirty war where these things were going to be inevitable.

Others have pointed to the culture in the special forces as a contributing factor.

My own take is that people do terrible things in war, at some point the potential to cross a line can occur.

If any Australian soldiers at any level are found to have done something illegal contrary to the law of the army then they should be held accountable by the laws they operate under.

Same for anyone higher up who encouraged, covered up or turned a blind eye to such things.

We hold ourselves to standards, we are accountable when we fall short of them otherwise it all falls apart.

But if we merely use these soldiers as scapegoats expect the military to become more disillusioned with their leadership.

For those who have come forward to tell their story and hopefully have truth come to light. If the allegations turn out to be true well then we owe them thanks for their courage. Some of them are no longer with us already.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – ARISE SIR TOM

Capt Tom Moore becomes Sir Tom after being knighted by Queen ...

 

July 17 

Captain Tom Moore, the 100 year old World War II veteran of the Burma campaign who had raised close to 33 million pounds for the NHS Charities went to Windsor Castle with his family.

Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II walked over from her granddaughter’s nearby wedding to make a special exception to the cessation of such ceremonies to formally knight the centenarian.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “On occasion, the Queen invests individuals privately during audiences.”

The Queen herself had chosen to join the Auxillary Territorial Service in 1945 serving in London during the war.

 

Queen Elizabeth knights 100-year-old vet Captain Tom: See all the ...

 

When quizzed about what was discussed between the two, ever the loyal Knight Sir Tom replied “No. That’s between the Queen and I,” he said “I don’t think I’ll tell anybody what she said, it was just the Queen and I speaking privately and it was a great honour for me to be able to speak to her at all.

Captain Tom was joined by his daughter Hannah Ingram, son-in-law Colin Ingram, grandson Benji and granddaughter Georgia.

Arise Sir Tom and God Bless.

-Lloyd Marken

 

 

 

 

 

COVID-19 DIARY – WALK ON SIR THOMAS MOORE

Tom Moore stands with a walking stick on a sunny day in his garden, with his walker nearby.

 

19 May

Monday I started feeling some mild flu like symptoms and it only got worse on Tuesday so as a precaution we decided I would work from home the whole week. Originally it was expected I would be coming in Thursday and Fridays.

The national broadcaster’s program Foreign Correspondent ran a great piece  about how COVID-19 was affecting the lowest paid workers in India.

At the best of times, living conditions in slums will cause people who live in better conditions to feel sadness, shame or horror.

In the slums of Mumbai a bathroom will be shared by 80 people in a daily basis, under such circumstances it is easy for a virus to spread.

People had moved from the regions to work in those slums for corporations that once the country shut down no longer paid them. Many just started walking home with public transport shut down. They will walk for days with the possessions they have.

With COVID-19 in full flight the disproportion of wealth in any society is being made more apparent.

I don’t have any answers but this episode reminded me yet again how lucky I am and wonder about what I could do to help others.

 

 

 

Tom Moore

20 May

Some people leave their run late.

Nobody would have felt Tom Moore had much else left to do on the eve of turning 100. A veteran of World War II he had served in Burma and come back home and raised his family and lived a good life.

Yet when the grandfather who had been born in the time of the Spanish flu pandemic started to live through COVID-19 he set himself a task.

He would walk 100 laps of the 25 metre loop in his garden with the aid of his walking frame before his upcoming 100th birthday on the 30th of April in the hopes of raising $1,000 pounds for the UK National Health Service (NHS).

As he completed his laps and promised “Tomorrow will be a good day,” his determination captured the heart of his nation and the world.

With Michael Ball and NHS Voices of Care Choir he recorded a version of You’ll Never Walk Alone which topped the UK Charts.

On April 16 when he completed his 100th lap the 1st Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment were on hand to provide him with a guard of honour.

 

 

On the day of his 100th Birthday the Royal Air Force’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight flew over his home in Bedfordshire.

https://www.bbc.com/news/av/embed/p08bzts4/52735192

At the end of his efforts he had broken a Guinness World Record for most money raised by an individual through a walk. His fundraising total $33 million pounds! (61.8 million Australian dollars) for the NHS whose workers he refers to as “national heroes.

He was made an Honorary member of the English Cricket Team which is not nearly as good as being an Honorary member of the Australian Cricket Team but probably means a lot to him as an Englishman.

The retired Captain was made an Honorary Colonel.

Then Boris Johnson decided fuck it, let’s give him a knighthood and the Queen thought yeah well we bloody well should. Overwhelmed by the honour he tweeted thanks to the Prime Minister, Her Majesty The Queen and the Great British public.

I will remain at your service.

It’s unknown how the ceremony will go ahead or when.

“I’m looking forward to that,” Moore said, adding, “I hope she’s not very heavy-handed with the sword, because by then I might be rather a poor old weak soul.”

Captain Tom wears glasses, blazer and war medals with a thumbs up in front of cakes decorated with planes and tanks.

Every time I read about this man I just cry.

I cry because it’s not really what he did that matters, it’s what he inspired in others that does.

He stood for certain values we are afraid we are losing.

Last month he said “Let’s all carry on and remember that things will get better. We have had problems before — we have overcome them — and we shall all overcome the same thing again.

He demonstrated in his resolve and spirit what we can all do and others have picked up his example.

One and half million followers and donors and countless more making a decision every day to be a little bit more like Captain Tom.

Arise Sir Moore and God bless you.

-Lloyd Marken